Principles for Conversion to Ecological Agriculture

22 Gennaio 2007 · Saggi / Ensayos Agroecología

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Use Renewable Resources

– Use renewable sources of energy instead of non-renewable sources.

– Use biological nitrogen fixation.

– Use naturally-occurring materials instead of synthetic, manufactured inputs.

– Use on-farm resources as much as possible.

Minimize Toxics

– Reduce or eliminate the use of materials that have the potential to harm the environment or the health of farmers, farm workers, or consumers.

Conserve Resources

Conserve Soil

– Sustain soil nutrient and organic matter stocks.
Minimize erosion.
– use perennials.
– use no-till or reduced tillage methods.
mulch.
Conserve Water

– Use efficient irrigation systems.

Conserve Energy

– Use energy efficient technologies.

Conserve genetic resources

– save seed.

– use heirloom varieties.

Conserve Capital

– Keep bank debt to a minimum.

Manage Ecological Relationships

Reestablish ecological relationships that can occur naturally on the farm instead of reducing and simplifying them.

Manage pests, diseases, and weeds instead of “œcontrolling” them.

Integrate Livestock

Enhance beneficial biota
In soils
– mycorrhizae

– Rhizobia

– free-living nitrogen fixers

Beneficial insects

– Provide refugia for beneficials.
– Enhance benefial populations by breed and release programs.

Recycle Nutrients

– Shift from throughflow nutrient management to recycling of nutrients.

– Return crop residues and manures to soils.

– When outside inputs are necessary, sustain their benefits by recycling them.

Minimize Disturbance

– Use reduced tillage or no-till methods.

– Use mulches.

– Use perennials

Adjust to Local Environments
– Match cropping patterns to the productive potential and physical limitations of the farm landscape.

Adapt Biota

– adapt plants and animals to the ecological conditions of the farm rather than modifying the farm to meet the needs of the crops and animals.

– Diversify Landscapes

– Maintain undisturbed areas as buffer zones.

– Use contour and strip tillage.

– Maintain riparian buffer zones.

– Use rotational grazing.

Biota

– Intercrop.

– Rotate crops.

– Use polyculture.

– Integrate animals in system.

Economics

– Avoid dependence on single crops/products.

– Use alternative markets.

– Organic markets.

– Community supported Agriculture (CSA).

– “Pick your own” marketing.

– Add value to agricultural products.

– Process foods before selling them.

– Find alternative incomes.

– Agrotourism

Empower People

– Use indigenous knowledge

– People-centric development.

– Increase farmer participation.

– Ensure intergenerational fairness.

– Guarantee Agricultural labor

Manage Whole Systems

– Landscapes

– Households

– Farms

– Communities

– Bioregions

Maximize Long-Term Benefits

– Maximize intergenerational benefits, not just annual profits.

– Maximize livelihoods and quality of life in rural areas.

– Facilitate generational transfers.

– Use long-term strategies.

– Incorporate long-term sustainability into overall agroecosystem design and management.

– Build soil fertility over the long-term.

– Add value to agricultural products.

Value Health

Human Health
Cultural Health
Environmental Health
– Value most highly the overall health of agroecosystems rather than the outcome of a particular crop system or season.
– Eliminate environmental pollution by toxics and surplus nutrients.
Animal Health
Plant Health

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